On International Women’s Day, I wanted to sit down and have an honest and frank discussion with a fellow woman in this gaming space. That woman is Dhayana @MissDeusGeek, she is a gaming influencer, Xbox Ambassador and diversity advocate. I believe she would be the perfect person to chat with about this industry as her background is complex and different from mine, creating two unique perspectives on the same industry.
What do you think can be done to improve the gaming industry in terms of harassment?
Dhayana: “I believe having open discussions around the impact harassment can have is an important step forward in educating the wider industry and general public. Having global organizations acknowledge the issue and work together with experts to implement anti-bullying, as well as equal opportunity policies will also help. Of course, representation matters most. Having women in positions of leadership and putting them front and centre will not only show that women are just as capable as men in the gaming industry, but it will also encourage more women (and young girls) to pursue careers in gaming.
Mary: “I really think talking about the issues needs to continue to happen. Raising awareness to showcase that this happens everyday to women. Social media platforms need to have real consequences for those who do participate in such toxic behaviour. But also, celebrate wins that women achieve, to not only have those in the industry continue achieving great things but to inspire the youth.”
Why do you stay in an industry that can be so toxic towards you?
Dhayana: “That’s quite simple. I love what I do and I love the community that I have fostered. The joy and sense of satisfaction that I feel doing the work that I do outweighs the toxicity and negativity I’ve experienced. I also have faith that the industry will come together to change the status quo and make gaming a much safer and more inclusive space for all.”
Mary: “I agree with Dhayana, I just love what I do. Everyday is different and while the toxicity definitely has increased as I use my voice to raise awareness I believe that in time, things will change and I am happy to continue to help in a small way.”
What are some positive aspects of the industry?
Dhayana: “The games industry certainly has its positive aspects. As a whole, the industry is built on passion, creativity and pushing boundaries, something that is widely encouraged. Doing what you love is a notion that is cultivated, with game development workshops and careers in gaming being promoted much more visibly nowadays. It’s also a space that I’ve personally made some of my best friends and have found like minded people.”
Mary: “For every negative comment I have received, there was always someone in the background cheering me on or offering support. Being in the games industry, you meet so many unique and talented individuals from various backgrounds. The majority of the people that I have interacted with are always willing to help someone who needs it. With so many different ways to get involved in the games industry it can really allow for someone to develop their knowledge and skills in a creative environment.”
Can you please share a little about the toxic behavior that you have experienced?
Dhayana: “As a woman of colour, I’ve been subject to racist and indecent comments on streams and while playing games online with others. I’ve also experienced bullying and abuse predominantly by men, particular upon gaining accolades or success. It can be disheartening to experience such behaviour from peers.”
Mary: “This is a tough question, I have experienced toxic behaviour in the form of 100’s of mentions online at once, videos made about me, death threats in my direct messages. Also, like Dhayana, any success I received was met with criticism based on my gender and not earning it. All this can be very disheartening but it is part of the reason why I do what I do in terms of advocacy.”
Is being an advocate something you wanted to be?
Dhayana: “Being an advocate was never something I thought about nor planned to be. However, throughout my life I’ve found myself continually advocating for the underdog, especially when it came to women and minority groups. As I began to cultivate a following as a content creator and experienced firsthand the discrimination women in games faced, I found myself providing education around equality and the need for diversity and inclusivity in gaming.”
Mary: “I never expected myself to become an advocate, but now I cannot see myself being anything else. When I started my career I did not want to touch any “controversial” topics in regards to female representation or sexism. But as I started to notice how women were treated and experienced it firsthand, I started to tailor my content towards raising awareness and discussion around these issues. “
First, I want to thank Dhayana for agreeing to do this and sharing such passion and insight into her experiences. It was extremely brave for her to do this, as it is never easy to share these things with an audience. This is exactly what needs to happen, we need to talk about these issues to not only raise awareness but to also support each other. Not everyone wants to be at the forefront of this discussion but myself and people like Dhayana are happy to do so.